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Royal Caribbean unveils new names, homeports, and itineraries

Loyal readers, I have given up my weekend to bring you the latest breaking news from CLIA’s cruise3sixty conference. After several days of industry execs razzing each other, product updates, and press conferences, Royal Caribbean stole the show with the biggest announcements of them all.

First off, Royal Caribbean revealed that the unnamed sister ship of the soon-to-debut Freedom of the Seas would be called Liberty of the Seas. Sense a theme here? The new ship will make her entrance into the cruising arena in May 2007 and will sail alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries out of Miami. She’ll have all the fun amenities of the Freedom, including the onboard surfing, and maybe a few innovations of her own.

The Explorer of the Seas will return to the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, in May 2007 and will stay there, marking the first time Royal Caribbean has based a ship out of the New York area year-round. After cruising around Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Canada/New England throughout the summer and fall, the Explorer will sail nine-night Eastern Caribbean and 12-night Southern Caribbean itineraries throughout the winter of 2007-2008.

Also in 2007, you’ll be able to cruise from some new ports. The Empress of the Seas will split her time between Philadelphia and Norfolk, a new port for Royal Caribbean. She’ll sail Bermuda itineraries out of these Northeastern cities beginning in April 2007. And from December 2007 through March 2008, the Splendour of the Seas will sail seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries out of a new homeport in the Dominican Republic.

The Voyager-class ships (you know, the ones with the rock-climbing walls and ice skating rinks?) are also sailing into uncharted territory. The Navigator of the Seas will be the first of its class to sail shorter four- and five-night Western Caribbean cruises out of Miami (first-timers and onboard conventioneers, those cruises are meant for you). And the Voyager of the Seas heads to Galveston in fall 2007, marking the first time a ship in its class has resided in those waters.

Feeling tired after all those announcements? Me, too. I’ll be in touch again after I mail Cruise News and take a nap.

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